Midweek Musings: February 23, 2023

Dear Friend,

It doesn’t feel like Ash Wednesday to me without the ashes. I’m glad we cancelled our in-person service, and I know that we’ve done Ash Wednesdays on Zoom before, but I don’t like it. Despite my deep and profound love of words, there are times when I think our worship services are a little word-heavy and so I particularly appreciate the times when we embody our language—when we trace crosses on our foreheads with ashes even though some inevitably drip down or some crosses look more like smudges and we will probably just go home and wash it off before we go to bed; or when we baptize babies even though water drips down their face and even though they sometimes scream or squirm or look at us like we are totally and completely nuts. I appreciate these moments when we use our other senses to embody God’s love and God’s word. So I am sad that we weren’t able to gather in person for ashes this year. And perhaps that is an okay way to enter the season of Lent, a season when we traditionally strip back, go without, or take on so that we can be reminded of what matters and that, in the end, all we need is God.

May your Lent be meaningful,
Pastor Sarah

something Worth reading

Are Trees Real?

by Derek R. Nelson

I loved this sermon by Derek Nelson. In it, he asks, are trees real? Or are there only forests? And he connects the question with this one: are there Christians? Or is there only the Body of Christ?

I encourage you to read the full sermon, but here’s one of the big points from which you can extrapolate the rest:

“Trees themselves, taken individually, have a kind of separate existence, sorta kinda. But forests are real. You can take a tree out of the forest if you’re very careful, dig up the root ball so that you get plenty of the root mass, and plant it somewhere else. And sometimes that will work okay. The tree can stay alive, can grow, and can sometimes, if the conditions are right, reproduce. Less than ten percent of transplanted trees survive, and about one in a hundred thrive well enough to reproduce. If you go to your nursery, you’ll have better odds than that, but that’s because all the ones that died before going on sale have been mulched up.”

Read the full article here.

something worth hearing

Seek Ye First/Cannon in D

David Berthiaume

Our theme this Lent is Seeking: Asking Honest Questions for a Deeper Faith. To go with that theme, one of the songs we’ll be singing in worship is a modified version of Seek Ye First (the original version has Alleluia in it, which we don’t say in Lent). I love this instrumental version that melds Seek Ye First with Cannon in D, which was always my favorite piece to play on the piano.

something worth watching

Framing House and Home

Derek & Kelly Nelson with Salt Project

In this video, the same pastor whose sermon is featured above, Derek Nelson, who is also a professor of theology, talks about building a sustainable home, both literally and theologically. It’s a lovely meditation on dwelling and home as well as woodworking and family.

something worth praying

Beloved is Where We Begin

Jan Richardson

If you would enter
into the wilderness,
do not begin
without a blessing.

Do not leave
without hearing
who you are:
named by the One
who has traveled this path
before you.

Do not go
without letting it echo
in your ears,
and if you find
it is hard
to let it into your heart,
do not despair.
That is what
this journey is for.

I cannot promise
this blessing will free you
from danger,
from fear,
from hunger
or thirst,
from the scorching
of sun
or the fall
of the night.

But I can tell you
that on this path
there will be help.

I can tell you
that on this way
there will be rest.

I can tell you
that you will know
the strange graces
that come to our aid
only on a road
such as this,
that fly to meet us
bearing comfort
and strength,
that come alongside us
for no other cause
than to lean themselves
toward our ear
and with their
curious insistence
whisper our name:


from Circle of Grace: A Book of Blessings for the Seasons

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